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Penn Nursing > Media > Veterans and PTSD

Nursing, Veterans, and PTSD

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden with
Penn Nursing on April 11, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama is turning to nurses to identify, treat, and conduct research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as part of a national initiative. Attention to PTSD is a significant component of Joining Forces, created by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to champion wellness, education, and employment among military service members and their families. PTSD is a serious and widespread anxiety disorder affecting veterans, and the symptoms – re-living the traumatic event, avoiding situations reminiscent of the event, feeling numb and emotionless, or feeling relentlessly agitated -- can be terrifying.

“Penn Nursing scientists are leading investigators of PTSD and trauma, producing evidence-based research that is translated into innovative and effective clinical care,” says Dean Afaf I. Meleis.

Dr. Jill BidenThe Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration address and treat PTSD, but half of today’s Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seek care from health care providers outside the VA system. Nurses are often the first-line providers of care for veterans with PTSD and nurse scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing are leaders in fundamental research on this life-altering disorder.

A proud Blue Star mom, Dr. Biden has dedicated herself to shining a light on military families’ strength and courage as well as the challenges that they face.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will announce a major initiative by more than 150 of America's leading nursing organizations and more than 450 nursing schools in 50 states and territories to ensure our nation’s nurses are prepared to help meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families. Nursing leaders have committed to educating current and future nurses on how to recognize and care for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other combat-related issues. Collectively, this effort will reach over 3 million nurses in nearly every health care setting and every community in America.

Joining Forces: Nurse Committment Fact Sheet - Office of the First Lady (PDF) »

Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Biden at a Joining Forces Nurses Event »



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Penn Nursing Dean Afaf Meleis

“Every member of the healthcare team needs to be attuned to the possibility of PTSD,” said Dr. Meleis. “Nurses are on the front lines of the healthcare system and ready to serve our military and their families with expert clinical care and innovative research on this most serious disorder.”

Afaf I. Meleis, Dean, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing